It would be difficult to imagine a gloomier year — at least economic wise — than the one the country weathered in 2008.

I won’t recycle the sordid details of which companies and markets collapsed, or the fact that the Dow plunged more than 36 percent – wiping out nearly $8 trillion in personal holdings.

On a personal note, my 401(k) total now matches the proceeds I received for my first communion, while my financial planner assured me I have wisely accumulated enough money to live on for the rest of my life. That’s provided that I get hit by a car by 5 o’clock this afternoon.

But for those of you keeping score at home, this is the time when pundits pour out their prognostications for the coming year.

As I’ve never been imbued with any type of futurist thinking, I traditionally have been omitted from strategy sessions at work, not to mention being purposely omitted from office pools and Powerball drawings.
Ditto for my family as my grandfather once bet Germany and seven points in World War II, while another relative volunteered to help with catering duties for Thomas Dewey’s presidential victory party over Harry Truman.

Undaunted, however, I will forward my humble predictions for 2009:

• GM and Chrysler will burn through their bailout money like beer at a frat party and still fail to produce a viable plan within their mandated deadlines, and GM will merge, albeit uncomfortably, with Toyota.

• The total price tag for Barack Obama’s economic stimulus plan, which would include immediate tax cuts for middle-class families, will end up in the neighborhood of $1 trillion, versus the $675 billion his administration has projected. We’ll also have the AMT to kick around for a while longer.

• The convergence of GAAP and International Financial Reporting Standards will become so entwined in global politics that the roadmap will resemble Boston’s “Big Dig” project in terms of delays.

• Banks will pick up where they left off in 2008, exerting thumb-screw-like pressure on FASB to relax fair value rules.

• Whether out of a lack of succession planning or panic over the economic uncertainty of 2009, CPA firm mergers will continue at a relatively brisk pace.

• The SEC’s new chief accountant will be a dark-horse candidate as opposed to a Big Firm insider.

• The Dow climbs back to 10,500 by September.

• The editorial career of David Friehling — the auditor for Bernard Madoff’s securities firm — as a contributor to the New York State Society of CPAs’ paper, The Trusted Professional, ends.

• Despite wholesale changes in coaching and player personnel, the New York Jets still don’t make the playoffs.

• Accountants will continue to make more money than editors.

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